After doing extensive research for our honeymoon safari, I know we couldn't have chosen a better place to start off our trip. Amboseli's wildlife is not as dense as some other areas, but you still see plenty, especially elephants. To preface, we did a 10 day/9 night safari and stayed 3 nights each at Amboseli, Meru and Masai Mara, each at Cheli & Peacock properties and can't say anything but good things! If you are considering booking C&P, do it - top notch service, facility, accommodation, game drives, while caring and giving back to the environment and community.
Tortilis is beautiful. From picking you up from the airstrip, you already start on your first game drive. We were lucky to see Mt. Kilimanjaro right away and thankfully our guide for that drive pointed it out for us to take notice as apparently it often hides behind the clouds (such was the case for the rest of our trip except for the very last morning!).
Upon arriving at the camp we were greeted by the camp managers, Peter and Daniella with a welcome drink, and then intro to the amenities and how everything works - meal times, game drives, laundry, etc. To break it down for you...
Days start with a 6am 'wake up call'... at the dinner the night before, a server will come around and take your order for the next morning of tea or coffee, this will be delivered to your tent at 6am along with cookies (this camp had shortbread, yum!). It's a very nice way to start the morning! Then you will make your way to the camp entrance for your 6:30am game drive. Unless you have booked a private vehicle or if you have brought your own driver/guide, depending on occupancy, it could just be your party in the vehicle (it's a Toyota Land Cruiser) or it can sit up to 6 passengers. Each seat is comfortable as the seats are progressively raised so you get great views even from the back, albeit a little more bumpy. It was perfect for us as we were with one couple and a single traveler for the first 2 days and then since our stays overlapped differently, we had the vehicle and our guide to ourselves the last day.
Leparis (sorry, not sure of the spelling!) was our guide the whole time and he was excellent. He is from the Masai Mara but has been a guide in Amboseli for some time and definitely knows the area well. You can tell from talking with him that he really loves to show you the wildlife and gives you so much information about the surroundings and their habits. I feel like I learned so much on this trip!
After hearing from another couple who had done it, we decided to do the Masai village visit and also visited the school that Tortilis/C&P supports in the area. I would definitely recommend doing this. The head of the school met us and showed us the classrooms and explained what kind of classes they teach and it was really nice to meet people who do such good work and also the children. From there we drove to the Masai village where they greeted us with a dance, we got to (try to) jump with them and then they showed us how they build their homes and how they make fire. It does end with a market visit where the women display their crafts and beadwork. There is a community price list that they show you beforehand and although we had heard otherwise, we found them to be very low pressure on the sales and we didn't feel like anything was pushed on us at all. It was very nice to come away with souvenirs for friends and family and to contribute to their village in a small way. There is an entrance fee to the village and this was $20 USD per person. If you want any more info on this experience, feel free to message me!
Back to Tortilis... Food wise, it was excellent. Just to note, it's all Italian food so if you're expecting to eat local Kenyan food, this is not the case. Most breakfasts are done while on game drives but this doesn't mean you're missing out on anything... Tea, coffee, juice boxes, yogurt, fresh fruit, bacon, sausages, hard boiled eggs, bread. Just about anything you could want! For lunch it is a buffet with fresh salads, pastas, all sorts of items, really great. Dinner is a plated meal and it is delicious. The dining room seats you according to your tents so it isn't communal dining. The first night we were there only a few tables were seated so it felt empty, but it filled up the 2nd and 3rd nights and especially nice after we got to know some people. Our last night they surprised us by setting up a private table by the fire which we thought might get smokey but was actually a perfect way to dine under the stars and watching the watering hole. We loved it!
The length of game drives somewhat depends on you, but usually are from 6:30-10am, then you are back at Tortilis to rest, relax and enjoy, then head up for lunch at 1pm (very hot in the afternoon which makes the walk up the hill tiring!). Lunch is a buffet with the freshest salads! They have a large garden where they grow plenty of produce and even have avocado and papaya trees. All water is filtered and drinking water is double filtered so no worries there. They also provide you with refillable containers for you to use during your stay (eco-bags which are green, light and have a carabiner if you want to clip it to your bag). There is also refillable water during your game drives that your guide has in a cooler if you need it. Drinks here were in addition to the package price and that was the only thing you had to pay extra for. Laundry is included but limited to 6 pieces per person and they do not launder underwear, although detergent is provided in the tent washroom for you to do it yourself.
After lunch, it's more resting or you can take a dip in the pool (we never ended up doing this) and then your afternoon game drive starts around 4pm and ends with a sundowner, getting back to the camp by 7-7:30 in time to shower and get to dinner at 8pm. We didn't find this to be a super social camp and not many people took advantage of the 7-8pm canapes and drinks in the lounge as they did in the other camps we went to so we found it to be a little more private.
One thing to note is that Amboseli is very dusty. It might sound silly to say, but especially if you do a bush walk, you will get covered in dust! We chose to do this (our guide was Jackson, he is great!) and the dust even went through my shoes and my socks were covered in it! The bush walk was very safe and we didn't encounter any animals up close, it was mainly to get a tour of the garden, see animal tracks and dung up close and get a little exercise.
I could go on and on about Tortilis but I've already written quite an essay... if anyone has any questions about the services offered, the facilities, guides, the school or village visit or other, please feel free to private message me and I'll answer as best I can!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Amboseli is best known for its unrivaled views of Kilimanjaro and the local elephant population. There are over 1000 elephants in the park eco-system, featuring some of the largest elephants in Africa. Tortilis Camp is named after the flat-topped, umbrella thorn tree, the Acacia Tortilis, and is situated in one of Amboseli's areas of Acacia Tortilis woodland, with the majestic backdrop of Africa's highest mountain, and the World’s highest free-standing mountain, snow-capped Kilimanjaro. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Tortilis Camp Hotel Amboseli Eco-System